In fact, they are not negotiating at all, but simply insisting that an agenda of destructive policies rejected by Greek voters nonetheless be adhered to.
In Washington last week, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis repeated a mantra he has used often in recent weeks that he does not expect creditors to meet Greece halfway — one-fifth of the way would be enough for progress. Of course, part of the campaign against the Greek government led by the far-left Syriza is to portray Varoufakis as something between a clown and a publicity hound, even though the former academic has forgotten more about economics than German Chancellor Angela Merkel or Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble ever knew.
But it is Merkel and Schäuble who wield the power in the EU and they seem bent on using it to discredit the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and force it out of office.
Economist Mark Weisbrot, co-director for the Center of Economic and Policy Research, posted a blog this week titled, “European officials may be pushing regime change in Greece.”
He cited consistent efforts by European authorities, even before the Jan. 25 election that brought Syriza to power, to destabilize the Greek economy, from threats that prompted capital flight to cutting off European Central Bank funds to Greek banks.
All this as EU “negotiators” refused to countenance the slightest modification in the onerous austerity terms imposed on the preceding government as a condition for the bailout funds Greece needs to avoid default.
EU leaders have had no trouble enlisting the aid of former French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde in her capacity as head of the International Monetary Fund to go along with this intransigent stance.
Lagarde, who belongs to the European political elite that formulated the neoliberal economic policies dominating the EU, made it clear at the IMF spring meeting last week that Greece could expect no mercy from her or the international lending agency.
Ditto for Mario Draghi, head of the ECB, a European apparatchik who marches to the tune set in Berlin via Brussels.